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Call Me By My Name

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“I think I really like you.”
Unexpected words that came from someone she has admired for a long time. Once again, Tsumugi was sitting in her room, in deep thought of what happened on that day. At the time, she was speechless. So many emotions were swirling inside her.

But there was no confusion in what she felt with Gaku’s next words.
“I will contact you less for the time being, so I don’t cause any trouble for you. I will also stop calling out to you when I see you around”
Tsumugi’s heart sank. Pain, sadness, guilt and desperation to reach out to him; she bottled it all up so that she wouldn’t trouble him anymore.

“Gaku-san…” She mumbles as a teardrop falls from her eye. Ever since the day Gaku told her how he felt about her, the distance between them had increased. As Gaku declared, he doesn’t contact her other than work anymore and he hardly talks to her even if they do see each other. But that’s not all that had changed. Gaku and Tsumugi both call each other by their last names now. Feeling the distance between them, Tsumugi has realized how much Gaku really means to her. Before she knew it, the feelings she holds for him had turned from admiration into something more. That is why she is thinking about him so much and why the grown distance between them is hurting her so. His straightforward and honest personality, the passion and effort he puts in his work, the gentle way he treats her and looks at her for what she is, she fell in love with all of him.

I wish things could go back to the way they were before. I won’t ask for something as grand as being his lover or anything, but I wish I could close the distance between us. – With that thought, she falls asleep to end another melancholic day.

It’s been one month since TRIGGER won ‘Music of People’ and the idol group is making a strong recovery. With the amount of hard-work and passion they have, they proved that there is no obstacle they can’t overcome.

IDOLiSH7 and Re:Vale are also not to be left behind. IDOLiSH7 is having another collaboration event with TRIGGER and Re:Vale. This time, it’s a continuation for Ainana Police with Momo and Yuki as newcomers!

The first meeting is being held today at IDOLiSH7’s studio. It will be a short meeting where they will discuss their schedule for practice. Most members are already at the studio. A few minutes later, Momo and Yuki show up.

“Yo minna, hope you have been well!” Momo says with his usual cheerful voice.

“Momo-san, Yuki-san, we look forward to working with you!” Tsumugi straightens up and bows as she sees them arrive. The rest of IDOLiSH7 follows as well.

Soon after, TRIGGER enters. As soon as she notices Gaku and their eyes meet, Tsumugi’s heart skips a beat. But she forces herself to snap out of it.

“Evening, Takanashi-san. Looking forward to working together once again” Gaku greets  Tsumugi in a formal manner.

There it is again…”Takanashi-san”. I should be used to it. That’s the way it needs to be! I need to make sure I don’t show my emotions!

“Yes, same goes for us, Yaotome-san” She bows, trying to hide the pain that might have showed on her face.

Gaku replies “Alright,” he replies with a sad, forced smile. Surely, he feels a similar pain as Tsumugi does. Maybe even more. He was the one who initiated to put distance between them. He knew it was the best way to protect her, but it still hurt.

Mitsuki, who is nearby notices the strained expressions the two of them had. He had been noticing his manager’s somber mood for the past month or so and judging by how the two of them had been acting, he realized that Gaku was involved. So, after the meeting, he decides to gather everyone but Gaku and Tsumugi to figure out what the others feel about the situation.

“Don’t you guys think there’s something off about the two of them lately?” Mitsuki starts.

Yamato contemplates. “Now that you mention it, I noticed both of them were trying to avoid eye contact with each other”

Ryunosuke get worried. “No way. Could they have gotten into a fight?”

Yuki shakes his head. “I doubt it. Both Gaku and Maneko-chan are considerate and understanding of each other. The reason most likely lies somewhere else.”

“…I think I know the reason”

All heads turn to the owner of the voice. “What might it be, Riku-kun? Please tell us” Sogo asks.

Riku hesitates but soon tells everyone what had happened before MOP. That Gaku likes Tsumugi and that they need to keep distance so that the press doesn’t take advantage of them.

Tenn sighs, “That idiot. He shows his feelings on his face so easily”

“OH! FORBIDDEN LOVE. How tragic!” Nagi exclaimed.

“I… want the manager to cheer up” says Tamaki.

Iori adds, “That is true. I-it’s not like I am worried about her or anything. But it might pose a problem if she can’t concentrate. Not only that, it might compromise her health”

“Aww, you should just be honest, Iori.” Riku playfully teases Iori as usual

Mitsuki makes a determined face and says “Yeah. It shouldn’t go on like this”

“I know!” Momo exclaims. “Let’s make an opportunity for them to talk things out! I am sure the two of them want things to get better between them. For that, I think it would be best to convince Maneko-chan to change Gaku’s mind. Gaku is a gentleman after all so he won’t take the initiative unless he knows how she feels about the situation”

Yamato agrees, “That’s true. I guess I should work hard here. Leave the convincing to me. You guys think of a way to get the media’s eyes off them when they talk”

All: “Leave it to us!”

That day, Yamato confronts Tsumugi about the issue. Tsumugi apologizes for the fact that she worried everyone with her recent behaviour. Riku, who was concerned with how it would go jumps in to tell her that she has nothing to apologize for and that they all want her to be happy. Tsumugi, feeling so happy about the feelings of everyone decides to talk to Gaku after all. It might be a burden to him. It might make things harder for the both of them. But she knew that she needs to do this, for both their sakes.

A few days go by and the team works hard to make a suitable situation for them to talk. Re:vale suggests they use their studio for their next meeting and makes sure that the only people in the studio are members of IDOLiSH7, TRIGGER and Re:vale, along with their managers.

Tsumugi approaches Gaku after the meeting. She is nervous and scared, but her resolve is strong.

“Yao-, Gaku-san, may I have a moment with you?”

By instinct, Gaku looks around to make sure no reporters were to be seen. “S-sure, what is it?” He shows another strained smile.

“Let’s have some coffee at the cafeteria” She urges Gaku to follow her and they sit at the cafeteria ready to have their talk.

“What’s wrong, calling me to talk so formally?” Gaku asks curiously.

“I am sorry!” , Tsumugi lowers her head.

Gaku is no doubt surprised “W-what’s wrong, Takanashi-san?! Why are you apologizing so suddenly?”

“I am selfish. I know it might trouble you, but I don’t want to have distance between us! Ever since the day you told me you like me, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. I was confused, and I couldn’t think properly, but at the same time I was so happy. But the fact that your whole career was jeopardized because of me, I couldn’t forgive myself. I was just so happy we were getting closer, I forgot that I was crossing the line I made for myself. The times we texted each other, the time you gave me a beautiful Christmas present, all of them have become precious memories for me. I don’t want those moments to be the last! ” Tsumugi couldn’t stop the words from coming out. Before she knew it, tears were falling from her eyes and she couldn’t stop them.

“Takanashi-san… you…” Gaku is still dumbfounded not only by her words, but also seeing herself express herself so openly and honestly. He always found her honesty charming, but this is the first time he felt he is seeing her true, unreserved emotions.

“Tsumugi… please call me by my name. Even if it’s just once more, I want to hear you say it” she mutters quietly

Gaku gently takes her hand in his while wiping her tears “I am sorry, Tsumugi. This whole time, I thought that this was the best way to protect you, but it seems I have only been hurting you. I see I made a mistake. But it makes me happy you thought of me so much. From now on, I will try to close the distance I created between us. Though, there is still danger of getting you caught up in something like this again, are you sure you are okay with the risk? The gossip doesn’t bother me, but I don’t want to put you in a troublesome situation"

 "I'm sorry"

“Gaku-san… Of course! Please don’t worry. I will make sure to be careful on my part so that I don’t cause you further trouble” Tsumugi is clearly happy but she is still concerned about Gaku and his situation.

Gaku gives a beautiful, relieved smile. “Alright”

The two gaze at each other with smiles on both their faces.  

“Well, let’s head back. The others must be waiting” Gaku gets up and starts walking. Tsumugi nods and follows him

Gaku stops a moment later “Ah, does the earlier declaration of yours count as a confession?” He looks back and gives a playful smile. His teasing attitude was so unexpected, along with his words making Tsumugi’s face go bright red. “G-Gaku-san! Please don’t ask something like that so suddenly” She pouts a little while looking down.

Gaku, clearly happy and amused by her reaction, turns back and continues walking. He quietly mutters so that Tsumugi doesn’t hear, “For now, this is enough”

The distance between them may still be there, but slowly and surely, they are getting closer….